Newt: As speaker, I would defund Justice Dept. until Holder ousted

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told The Daily Caller on Friday that if he were still atop the House of Representatives, he would defund the Department of Justice until Attorney General Eric Holder resigned or was fired.

TheDC asked Gingrich if he would send Capitol Hill police to arrest Holder, as the Washington Times had suggested the House could, now that he is in both criminal and civil contempt of Congress.

“No,” Gingrich said in response, during a wide-ranging interview with TheDC staff in the news outlet’s Washington, D.C., offices. “If I were speaker, I’d cut off funding because that’s real. If I were speaker, I’d announce that we’re not moving any appropriations for the Justice Department as long as Holder is attorney general.”

“The reason [former President Bill] Clinton and I got a lot done is we both understood what was real,” Gingrich added. “Yeah, we held press conferences and we postured, but we had real brawls. We closed the government. We had real fights and people got it. The reason we were re-elected in ’96 is we had the guts to close the government.”

Gingrich said he expects a federal judge to overturn President Barack Obama’s assertion of executive privilege over the Operation Fast and Furious documents, although he is not entirely sure.

“My hunch is it [Obama’s executive privilege assertion] will be [shot down by a federal judge], but it depends on what kind of judge it is,” Gingrich said.

With regard to the emerging scandal about the Obama administration’s Department of Treasury terminating pensions for 20,000 non-union Delphi retirees during the 2009 auto bailout, Gingrich said he supports the new bipartisan calls for a stronger congressional investigation into what happened and who was responsible.

“That’s exactly the stuff Congress ought to be more aggressive about,” Gingrich said.

The call from lawmakers — and now Gingrich — for a more in-depth investigation comes in the wake of emails TheDC obtained and first published on Tuesday showing that senior White House and Treasury officials were behind the termination of pensions for 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees.

Those emails show that the Treasury Department, led by Secretary Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating those pensions — a move made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan. The emails contradict sworn testimony in which several Obama administration figures have consistently said that the decision to terminate the pensions came from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC is a federal government agency that handles private sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests.

29 U.S.C. §1342 maintains that the PBGC is the only government entity that is legally empowered to initiate termination of a pension or make any official movements toward doing so.

During a Thursday campaign rally, Obama said that, if re-elected, he’d want to do the same thing that he did with the auto industry to every industry: “I said, I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” Obama said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney struck back almost immediately with an email to press calling out all the bailout’s failures, including pointing out how General Motors still has millions of taxpayer dollars in its coffers and how those non-union Delphi workers lost their pensions.

Gingrich said that if Obama is re-elected, “he will be the most radical and most authoritarian president we’ve ever had.”

“He’s proving on every front his willingness to break the law,” Gingrich said. “What he did on welfare reform was clearly a violation of the law, what he did on immigration is clearly a violation of the law. Why would you think he would be less risk-taking and less aggressive if he gets re-elected? This is a Chicago machine trying to figure out if they can use Chicago-style tactics to control the country the way that the Chicago machine is controlled in Chicago.”

“I don’t think it’s complicated,” Gingrich added. “The question is whether the American people are going to end up re-electing somebody who – whether it’s Fast and Furious or it’s the Delphi decision or the story this morning about Solyndra. The Secretary of Energy was knocking down everybody – I think the word was annihilating everybody – who walked in to suggest that Solyndra was a disaster. I mean, how much corruption and dishonesty do you have to have before you begin to figure out what kind of administration this is?”

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